A Birmingham counsellor has called for more Government help to tackle the plight of women who are forced to the United Kingdom to marry British men.
Dr Tasneem Zaidi said her women's help group was dealing with an increasing number from the Indian subcontinent who were suffering domestic violence at the hands of their husband and new family.
The abuse happens while the victims wait for their applications to become permanent citizens are processed. Under British immigration laws, anyone applying to live in the UK must undergo a two-year probationary period before they can apply for indefinite leave to stay and then naturalisation as a British citizen.
According to Dr Zaidi, during this two-year period many women are mistreated and enslaved by their husband's families, who threaten not to sponsor their applications for indefinite leave if they dare complain or report any abuse to the authorities.
Many women have no option but to remain and bring up children in the abusive homes, because they risk heaping shame on their own families if they return to their native countries as an unwanted bride, she said.
"Asian parents are forcing their children, in particular males, to marry girls from abroad," she said.
" These girls have no knowledge of the country and are at the mercy of their inlaws and when the so-called marriage breaks down, the domestic violence starts. These women are used as slaves, repeatedly hit, threatened and have their human rights violated.
"They are told by their inlaws that they will be prosecuted and deported if they tell the police. The women believe them because they do not know the system and do not know who to approach when things go wrong."
Dr Zaidi said victims, including those with children, who eventually escape and contact social services then discover they are not entitled to benefits.
At least two women approach the Bharosa service, set up by the Birmingham social care and health department, each week for confidential counselling and support but Dr Zaidi believes many more cases go unreported.
Calling for greater monitoring by the Home Office, she said: "My concern is that social services are underresourced and over-worked but are having to pick up the pieces.
"Sponsors should be made more accountable to what happens to these women when things go wrong."
Abid Mahmood, head of immigration and human rights at No 8 law chambers, Birmingham, said while the majority of marriages from the Indian sub-continent were successful, there were problems with a minority which urgently needed addressing.
He said there are two ways the Home Office could follow the plight of vulnerable women during this two-year probation period.
Mr Mahmood said: "Firstly, the Home Office could send a questionnaire to be filled out by the wife on her own at a solicitor's office with an interpreter present if necessary.
"This would offer the wife the chance to tell what has been happening. If there has been abuse they can be given legal advice and told how to get help.
"This is relatively inexpensive and would remind the husband and family that their behaviour will be monitored.
"The other possibility is for the Home Office to make random checks on couples.
"If the sponsor knows they could get a visit at any time, it could be a check on their behaviour.
"These methods would ensure there is no abuse of the immigration system and the rights of these women are protected as there is little currently that appears to be done for them."
Mr Mahmood added: "It is the fortunate few who are lucky enough to get to organisations like Bharosa for assistance - most women do not."